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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

End of Maulana’s Azadi March: A Tale of Failed Dharna

Finally, Maulana has officially announced to end ongoing sit-ins in some parts of KPK. This decision is a major defeat for the JUI-F’s chief after his failure to retain his seat in the national assembly. Is he still politically relevant?

The opposition’s Rehbar Committee on Tuesday called off the road blockades and anti-government sit-ins being held in various parts of the country in order to “not cause inconvenience to the public”. Political commentators are convinced that Maulana Fazlur Rehman has failed to achieve anything except some political relevance.

While addressing a press conference after an hours-long meeting of the committee, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani directed workers to open all blocked roads starting tonight. Instead, he announced, the opposition will hold joint Jalsas at the district level as part of its anti-government movement.

He said since the Rehbar Committee’s decision was the “final word”, it was being conveyed to workers to end the road blockades. Quoting a recommendation of the committee, Durrani requested Fazlur Rehman to call an “all-party conference” of the opposition to decide the dates for the Jalsa.

Read more: Plan B of Maulana Fazlur Rehman

The committee also decided that the opposition parties will jointly suggest names for the appointment of the chief election commissioner and other members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Durrani said the Rehbar Committee members will on Wednesday (tomorrow) demonstrate outside the ECP to demand that the foreign funding case against the ruling PTI be decided expeditiously by hearing on a daily basis.

13-days Dharna

After 13-days long Dharna in the federal capital, the JUI-F’s chief announced to called it off. While addressing the dharna participants from atop a purpose-built shipping container, on November 14, the politico-religious cleric announced that the protest movement set off by the ‘Azadi March’ would now spread to every nook and cranny of the country as part of ‘Plan–B’ that envisages blockade of “major arteries and highways – and even by lanes and streets”.

“We’ve decided that we would not stage sit-ins in cities as this would affect the lives of fellow citizens [which we don’t want]. We’ve decided that we would stage sit-ins on main roads and highways outside the main cities,” the cleric said amid vociferous sloganeering from his supporters. But it did not prove productive therefore the party had to call it off again.

The Beginning

It is important to recall that in July the JUI-F’s chief announced to topple the government if the premier and his cabinet do not step down. He also said that it was the last protest in Quetta and there was going to be freedom march in the months to come. He said: “This is our last long march and next will be our Freedom March in Islamabad if the PTI government does not resign in August. After holding 14 successful million marches across the country, today we have arrived in Quetta and this sea of people shows what the people of Pakistan want.”

After consultation with the opposition parties, Maulana postponed his proposed Azadi March from August to October. Initially, it was 27th Oct which Pakistan celebrates every year as Kashmir Solidarity Day. After criticism from all walks of life, Maulana changed the date and announced to lead a march in Islamabad on 31st October.

Read more: Fazal Ur Rehman- Fighting for Islam or Islamabad?

Addressing the foundation laying ceremony of the Baba Guru Nanak University at Nankana Sahib, the Premier dubbed the opposition’s Azadi March as a bid to “blackmail” the incumbent government. He said, “I had made it clear in my speech upon assuming the Prime Minister’s office that all the corrupt elements across the country will unite, and this march is the exact manifestation of that.”

Maulana is Using ‘Religion Card’

The premier made it clear that Maulana won’t be able to exploit “religious card” against the government at the behest of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). Joint opposition is backing the JUI-F March to give a tough time to the incumbent government to seek some political concession.

Interestingly, the world regards Prime Minister Imran Khan as the leader of the Muslim world whereas Maulana considers him an agent of the Jewish lobby. In May 2013 Maulana Fazlur Rehman declared it ‘haram’ to vote in favor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and his candidates.

He alleged Imran Khan for being sponsored by the West and the Jewish lobby. He also called Imran an agent of “Americans, Jews, Ahmadis and a person of ill character”. Maulana further attacked Imran’s family and said that “a person who could not make his own children Muslim nor Pakistani, is dreaming of becoming prime minister of Pakistan and making the country an Islamic welfare state.”

Read more: When All Else Failed, Maulana Fazlur Rehman played Religion Card

It was interesting to note that when Maulana had to tell as to who said Imran was really an American or Jewish agent. Maulana confidently asserted that “I am asked, ‘what is the proof that he (Imran Khan) is an agent of the Jews,’ I say there is only one proof and it is my own responsible personality. I am so righteous that I would never talk ill against anyone. This is enough that Maulana Fazlur Rehman says that he is a Jewish agent.”